The head office of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce in West Moorings, Trinidad.

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (T&T Chamber) is recommending limited curfews and that the current lockdown be extended for another week, to evaluate the impact of actions being taken by businesses to reduce community spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The recommendation is one of several put forward by the T&T Chamber in a news release issued today. According to the Chamber, “it takes two weeks to see the impact of the actions taken”.

The Chamber says such a move would be an interim measure, and it has the support of 85 percent of its membership.

It also notes the move by some businesses to temporarily close their “essential” services to reduce the risk of COVID spread.

“This action is commended; however, we have to ensure our citizens have access to essential services,” the T&T Chamber says.  “No one is safe until everyone is safe.”

T&T Chamber reports on a survey it recently conducted among its membership, which showed that 80 percent of those surveyed are equally concerned for lives and livelihoods.

Businesses surveyed also felt the main factors which appear to be contributing to the exponential increase in COVID-19 cases and death include:

●   Points of contact where many people are A-symptomatic

●   Lack of adherence to protocols by members of the public

●   Increased rate of spread perhaps due to new variant

“While most businesses are compliant and provide a safe environment for their staff and consumers, the majority who responded to our survey have called for stricter enforcement of whatever guidelines are implemented; the greatest concern is social engagement and unnecessary movement of individuals,” the Chamber said.

In order to immediately reduce COVID spread, in addition to extending the lockdown by another week, the Chamber suggests implementing limited curfews, which 90 percent of its membership believes is necessary.

“Implement a limited curfew from 9PM – 5AM on weekdays, and 5pm – 5am on weekends to reduce casual movement of individuals. Only people who work in industrial operations, which need to operate on a shift basis, should be allowed movement during the curfew period with a letter from their employer,” the Chamber said.

It adds: “Inter-island transport will have to be considered and allowances made.”

Other recommendations from the T&T Chamber include:

●   Further reduce crowd density in all essential businesses; as well as ensure proper crowd control at the entrances to these businesses. 79% of member respondents agreed with this statement.

●   Review the businesses that are considered essential and open only those that are absolutely necessary for the needs of the citizens, (eg essential repairs). 65% of member respondents agreed that a review is necessary.

●   Where possible we recommend the utilization of curbside and delivery service options to reduce the interaction and movement of individuals. 92% of those surveyed agreed with this option.

●   Additional efforts need to be taken by business to facilitate work from home.

●   As additional vaccines are received the priority should include persons who are working in the essential businesses to keep them safe.